New Findings in Restless Legs Syndrome
One of the most frustrating neurological conditions is restless legs syndrome (RLS.) It is characterized by an intense overwhelming need to move your legs at night or when sitting or resting. This can be so severe that affected individuals have difficulty sitting through a movie or driving in a car for any distance. Occasionally RLS can be associated with abnormal sensation, particularly in the feet and lower legs. The abnormal sensory symptoms are a form of peripheral neuropathy that is associated with RLS. Symptoms can be so severe as to be an impairment to sleep and feeling of well being. RLS is consider to be a form of sleep disorder, even though individuals can have symptoms during the day, while awake. New research findings that were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that there is a genetic component to RLS. There are many who doubt the actual existence of RLS but those affected with this condition would disagree. As a movement disorder specialist, having seen many patients with this condition, there is no question that it is real. To ignore the medical literature and scientific evidence on the existence of RLS is foolish.
RLS can markedly impair the quality of life of affected individuals. They typically have chronic sleep deficit with a higher incidence of depression. The recent report on the genetic linkage of families with members affected with RLS is fascinating. Another common sleep condition, periodic limb movements of sleep, shows a stronger genetic correlation to run in families due to a specific genetic sequence variant at the 6p chromosome. Many of these individuals have RLS. If one isolates out the patients with RLS only, the genetic linkage becomes less clear. It is perhaps that RLS represents a subset of individuals with some chromosomal variation. This may serve as a marker for potential development of RLS in patients who have a history of RLS or periodic limb movements of sleep. These individuals can also have trouble with elevation in their blood pressure as well as other conditions associated with long standing sleep deprivation. There are several excellent treatment options for RLS including the dopamine agonists, Klonopin, low dose mild narcotics and other medications. If you are affected with this condition, it is important to get medical help as excellent treatment exists to control symptoms.